In today’s turbulent world of mergers, acquisitions and downsizing there are market pressures for organisations to be flexible in the employment of staff, to remain competitive and win contracts. They cannot afford to have people on staff waiting for contracts.
The net effect of all of this is that many huge contracts, both in the public and private sector, are outsourced to organisations that bid to perform them. If the bid is successful, the winner must set about finding suitably skilled and trained staff, normally via recruitment agencies, and often at short notice. They will often take these people on as contractors, rather than as permanent staff.
In the UK in 2013 there were over a million people working on “Zero Hours “ contracts – that is to say the company has established a relationship with them , has cleared them to work for them, has their ID and bank details but has no obligation to give them any work. They will utilise them as and when they need them.
Against this background employers do not have the time or the motivation to nurture skills in employees. If employees want to win work of a technical nature, such as ITC work, or data communications, they must take responsibility for their own continued professional development, ensuring they develop new portable skills that are of use to organisations that have contracts to fulfil.
Many of our big companies in the UK such as Capita and Group 4 Security do not have a stable, permanent workforce, but take on staff specifically to fulfil contracts. In the same way Local Authorities use temporary teachers to cover illness and maternity leave, and the NHS has a massive outsourced workforce at every level from Doctor to cleaner. This is reflected in many economies.
In these cases the relationship between employer and employee is transactional rather than relational. The employer has no interest in nurturing the career or developing the skills of temporary workers. They need them to be “work ready” when the posts are advertised.
Employees need to have several strong, relevant, up to date CV’s which showcase their multiple skills and experience for several different, probably related, types of work.
They need to build relationships with recruitment agencies, demonstrate a willingness to accept work at short notice, for indeterminate periods, across as wide a geographical area as possible.
Even if employees are willing to work in minimum wage positions, many will need to adopt the same flexibility and management of their own career, as even administrative, clerical and call centre work is now outsourced by contracts, and the employer is competing for work.
Every man and woman for themselves!